“Sammey” (Trinity Simpson) is a troubled kid, but not any worse off than her wayward mother “Lynn” (Elise Muller) or her father “Robert” (Tom "Sorority Party Massacre, 2012" Downey), an off-the-wagon alcoholic fledgling children's book artist who is just trying to get his life back on track.
When father and daughter move into grandma's house to begin again, they discover an attic full of dolls. The dolls have a past that, by horror movie doll standards, is actually quite novel. With a bloody opening and an atmospheric delivery to make the most of any scary movie experience, Dolls has quite a bit going for it. It even has a sense of poetry.
Dolls was brought to life by Cuyle Carvin, a newb to the director game, but known for parts in We Are The Walking Dead (2017), as well as a litany of TV show supporting parts. In a direct-to-DVD world, a lot can be said for this one. And it will take a lot for viewers to overlook the stilted dialog and cringe-worthy father/daughter exchanges, especially in the opening.
It isn't before about half of the way in and we are still struggling with basic stuff like introductions of key characters, the last of which is “James” (Bret "Jane the Virgin, 2016" Green), the next-door handyman who does much for the movie in terms of likableness and overall appeal. Things are now threatening to become desirable when the film's strongest performer, Elise Muller, steps in as an emotionally regretful and concerned busy mom. She is the sharpest performer here.
There is something to be said for a movie that has no promise whatsoever in its congested genre and yet makes you want to like it in the end—such is the case here. Confronted with the reality that dolls simply cannot do very much to physically hurt or kill someone, we look to see if we can make some sort of sense out of it all in a murder/mystery-style dynamic. But alas, we fail on all accounts here, too. The plot had potential, as did the film's delivery. Sadly, though, this one gets left in the attic, along with grandma's old dolls.